David Shorter, a professor world arts and cultures at UCLA, has published a list of “six key lessons” for people starting graduate school. Paraphrasing, they include:
1. Map out what the major requirements are for your program and for getting a job in your field and have a timetable for their completion.
2. Remember to act professionally and considerately with your professors and colleagues.
3. Figure out what kind of adviser you need, but don’t expect your adviser to solve all of your problems.
4. Prioritize the actual work of being a student, including taking good notes, writing a lot, reading material not required for class, and of course proofreading all of your work.
5. Remember that your letter writers will be honest in their assessments of you.
6. Improve your writing.